"I used to make movies. Sexy stuff. Some critics called them European. I thought they were shit." - Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) in Drive
American Gigolo - The second installment of Schrader’s “night workers” quintet that began with Taxi Driver. (The last three films to date in this loose, unofficial series are Light Sleeper, Bringing Out The Dead and The Walker). The scene in Drive set in the strippers’ dressing room reminded me of the scene in the opening montage where the titular manwhore Julian Kaye (Richard Gere) visits his tailor. Lots of light, mirrors, reflections. Lots of red.
Thief - James Caan is a master jewel-thief with a very fixed structure to his life in Michael Mann’s little-seen crime thriller. Sound familiar? A lot of Drive’s plot machinations echo those of Thief, but I don’t want to get into further specifics without getting too spoilery. (Did I mention that it’s “little-seen”? Worth seeking out if you are a Thief virgin.) Actually, a lot of the visual style of early Michael Mann ripples through Drive - a little bit of Manhunter, a flash of Miami Vice (the show, not the shitty movie). Also: Tangerine Dream are on synth duty.
Hitman Jef Costello (Alain Delon) wears his trenchcoat like the Driver wears his scorpion jacket. Like a uniform. The similarities go deeper than that, though - there are certain narrative and visual cues from Jean-Pierre Melville’s minimalist masterpiece that crop up in Drive. For example, the moment when the Driver strides purposefully down the narrow corridor searching for Cook made me flash on this: